Can Daylight Saving Time Save You Money, Too?

daylightsaving_mainThe second Sunday in March is almost upon us, and most of us know what that means:  It’s almost time to move our clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Saving (not “Savings”) Time — the first part of our annual “spring forward, fall back” two-step.  The name itself mentions “saving,” but saving daylight doesn’t automatically translate into financial discounts.  Still, it should be asked:  Can Daylight Saving Time (“DST”) save you money, too?

To answer the question, let’s consider how and why Daylight Saving Time originated.  Here’s a DST timeline:

1784:  Benjamin Franklin proposes a vague version of DST in an essay entitled “An Economical Project.”  The essay promotes an “early to bed, early to rise” lifestyle (thereby saving people money on nighttime candle needs), but Franklin doesn’t actually suggest moving the clocks back.  The essay is considered satire.

1895:  George Vernon Hudson, an entomologist, suggests a two-hour shift back in March and forward in October (i.e., “spring back, fall forward”) because he wants more evening light for his bug-hunting pursuits.  His idea is ignored.

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1907:  William Willett recommends adding 20 minutes to the clock during the first four Sundays in April and then reversing course in October.  Willett continually advocates for the change before dying in 1915.

1916:  Daylight Saving Time is enacted, first in Germany and then in Britain, to spur energy savings during World War I.

1918-19:  The United States enacts Daylight Saving Time to save fuel for WWI.

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1919:  DST opponents convince Congress to repeal the policy.

1942:  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt re-institutes DST year-round to save energy during WWII.

1945-66:  Various cities, counties, and states recognize Daylight Saving Time as they see fit, creating quilt-like time zones nationwide.

1966:  The Uniform Time Act imposes a “standard” Daylight Saving Time period (from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October) on states that choose to observe it.

2005:  The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends Daylight Saving Time to run from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.daylightsaving_lightswitchClearly, Daylight Saving Time has little to do with consumer savings — at least as a national policy.  However, because natural light is available well into the evening during Daylight Saving Time, you can save on energy bills (much as Franklin first suggested) by waiting until late evening to turn on your lamps.  In 2009, the Department of Energy estimated that the 2005 extension increased annual national energy savings by 0.03%, enough to power over 120,00 U.S. homes for a year.  (Nevertheless, there are a variety of movements to eliminate Daylight Saving Time altogether, or at least move the day of the time changes from Sundays to Saturdays.)

Want to save on your home energy needs year-round?  Join FreeShipping.com, where you can earn 5% cash back and enjoy free shipping and other savings at Sears and other online appliance and home accessory retailers.  Let us know in Comments whether or not you like Daylight Saving Time.

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